Zukiswa Pikoli | 13 October 2019 |
The People’s Hearing into State Capture took place at Constitution Hill’s Women’s Jail at the weekend. The hearing was civil society’s version of the State Capture commission of inquiry chaired by Justice Raymond Zondo. Civil society organisations and ordinary people gathered to share the direct impact State Capture has on their lives, from health to education.
Former president Jacob Zuma once said “corruption is a victimless crime”, a most staggering statement that rings in everyone’s ears as we watch broadcasts, read reports and hear people’s stories on how corruption has brought the country to its knees.
Walking into the Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill on Saturday morning, 12 October 2019, one was greeted by a mini civil society exhibition highlighting the urgent intervention required in Emergency Medical Services in our public healthcare system — people are dying for the lack of ambulances as a result of corruption. The exhibition set the tone for the rest of the day and the very real nature and impact of State Capture on the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society.
As I entered the gathering, it was heartening to see the elderly and learners that had made an effort to be present at the hearing — they are often the ones who bear the brunt of the failure of state institutions. One cannot help but think of the mess former minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini made with the social grants management of SASSA and CPS, or the dangerous and sometimes fatal state of rural school infrastructure because the Department of Basic Education is not implementing its norms and standards, resulting in children continuing to be taught in mud schools and falling to their deaths in illegal pit toilets, as happened to Michael Komape.
It has been the practice in South Africa that during times of turmoil and societal instability, civil society rallies together to push for change — and that is what the People’s Hearing was about. The Zondo commission is indeed a watershed moment in our country for us to collectively contribute and mobilise around, prompting this collective action that gives voice to the people of our society. The 20-plus civil society organisations gathered on Saturday provided a space for an exchange and engagement of people’s frustrations with government.